Rising Utility Costs

Discussion in 'Energy & Fuel' started by Diane Lane, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    I was reading the news from the town where my mom and sister live (in Massachusetts) online early this morning, and saw a notice that their water and sewer rates will not be increasing. However, the selectmen have decided to transfer that debt instead to tax levies. Basically it sounds as if they are transferring the cost to property owners (commercial and residential), rather than renters. Ultimately, I'm sure those fees will be collected from renters in higher rents anyway, but I'm sure there's some logic behind it, perhaps to gain votes from renters.

    The reason the article caught my eye at all is that I know their rates are high already. I'm going to try to remember to ask my mom what her average bills is, next time I talk to her. Also, I received a notice the other day that my water/sewer rate will be increasing by 8.4%. I personally think it's disgusting to increase fees almost 10% when so many are struggling. I like having the trash picked up twice per week, but would be o.k. with paying less and cutting back to once per week trash pickup. Several large corporations in the area have recently announced layoffs. In addition to the increase, they are doing away with the grace period for late payments, which will result in late fees.
     
    #1
  2. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    4,825
    Likes Received:
    6,954
    It seems like all of the government offices find ways of charging people more, one way or another, and some of the increases do not seem fair. I remember that when the price of gasoline went down then some states added more taxes onto gas prices, saying that the gas was still cheap.

    We are at that time of year when we can get by with out using either heat or cooling, which happens in the spring and the fall, and I love it when we are in those seasons.
    Our city utilities charge for water, and then they double that amount and charge that for sewer. In the summertime, when people are using water for their lawn and gardens, which does not in any way affect the sewer use, then their bills are much higher both from water and from sewer, which is totally unfair.
    We have garbage pickup once a week, and usually only have less than a half can of garbage, and I am still trying to imagine how you could need a pickup twice a week, @Diane Lane ? ?
     
    #2
    Diane Lane likes this.
  3. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    I think in Houston the pick up is once per week, or at least that's how it was when I lived up there. In some sections, pick up has been twice weekly for a long time. I think it's to do with the Summer heat and odors/insects, although I'm not sure. If I had a bin I wouldn't care, because then I would store trash outside in that, but I don't, and there's an extra charge for that, which I am not going to pay right now. The city sets the trash pick up schedule, so what I want or need doesn't really matter anyway. I'm not actually sure what they mean by sewer, because on the notice, they're measuring it in gallons, although at first, I thought they were referring to the trash pick up. Ugh, now I'm more confused than ever, not that any of that matters, since they will do what they will, and charge what they want to charge.
     
    #3
  4. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    4,825
    Likes Received:
    6,954
    If your sewer bill is the same every month, then they maybe just estimate what a person uses. However, if it varies and is in some proportional relation to your water usage, then they may be doing the same thing as the City of Huntsville does. They measure your water usage, and then estimate your sewer use from that, which might be correct of all of the water you use is inside the house and goes down a drain and into the sewer system.
    However, when you use the water outside, either to water the lawn and garden, or maybe fill up a swimming pool, that shtill counts as not only water usage, but as sewer usage, even though it goes into the ground and not through the sewer system.
    They do give you an exemption if you have one of the backyard above-ground small pools (like we have). You tell them how many gallons it takes to fill your pool, and then it counts as water usage, but not included as sewer.
    You can also get a separate meter put in for watering, which does not count as sewer, but even jusst doing that is expensive because you have to run the liness and add the special outdoor water faucets and such.
     
    #4
    Diane Lane likes this.
  5. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    @Yvonne Smith I happened to have a bill sitting next to me, and just looked at it. I only have the one here, so can't compare to another month, but what's interesting is that the Trash portion of the bill is almost equal to the combined Water and Sewer portions. The Sewer total is about 3/4 of the Water total. I guess the meter must actually measure the amount of sewer usage, as well as overall water usage.
     
    #5
  6. Martin Alonzo

    Martin Alonzo Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,735
    Likes Received:
    2,479
    Need to live in a third world country. Where I live four years ago the electricity was free you just got a friend to climb up the pole and connect a wire. But that changed four years ago when they came through and tried to figure out how much you might be using and then gave you a bill. It was set up in groups if you consumed very little you got one price and if more it was another. We get power about 8 hours a day no guaranty. The cost started about 500 pesos which at that time was about US $15. It has slowly gone up to US $30 we have no meters. Now the cities do and they pay a lot more and there is a constant robbery of electricity.
    The problem is if you want electricity 24/7 you need to buy batteries and inverters which ends up costing a lot.
    I guess living in a backwards country has some advantages.
     
    #6
  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,453
    Likes Received:
    9,813
    As long as we continue to remove hydroelectric dams and close coal-powered electric plants, we'll be facing higher and higher costs.
     
    #7
    Frank Sanoica and Martin Alonzo like this.
  8. K E Gordon

    K E Gordon Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,443
    Likes Received:
    1,374
    I wish I lived in state that allowed deregulation. I think technically they may have it here, but I don't know of anyone using it here. I think it would be great if every state allowed and encouraged deregulation of utility bills and made the utility providers all compete against each other. I bet we would see some lower rates then!
     
    #8
    Martin Alonzo likes this.
  9. Krissttina Isobe

    Krissttina Isobe Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2015
    Messages:
    1,401
    Likes Received:
    1,450
    Locally in Hawaii solar and wind power has caught on now for over 5 years. Many have switched over to solar panels getting the discounts given by the industry and government alike. We have a program called LIHEAP to help pay utility and gas costs for the low income people and Senior Citizens.
    Here is the url for LIHEAP: http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/1493

    Good luck and maybe benefits.gov can help you find help with rising costs of living. You'd be pleasantly surprised what govt. has for helping Americans!
     
    #9
  10. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    3,834
    Likes Received:
    3,426
    In 1972, when I moved from Chicago to Las Vegas, I was astounded as I grew aware of the differences out west. Our electric billing in Vegas then cost 1.6 cents per kilowatt-hour: New York City averaged 10 cents! Obviously, I thought then (as I still do now 45 years later), that living out in the "wide-open spaces" has benefits, not the least of which was utility costs.

    At odds with such thinking is the cost for water in the arid Desert Southwest, where meager runoff of rain and no runoff of snow-melt are present, I believe the cost of water here ought to be much higher, to encourage reigning in excess use. Our water bill runs around $20 per month on average, for a usage amount of 10,000 gallons.
     
    #10
    Diane Lane likes this.
  11. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    @Frank Sanoica Does the $20 include water only, or are there other charges added in, such as sewer and trash collection?

    I would love to add some solar panels here if I had the money (and owned the place, although I'm sure the landlady wouldn't object to improvements, since she'd ultimately benefit.) I have enough flat surfaces here to collect quite a bit of solar power. Hopefully one day I'll be able to do something like that, mainly to be more independent, although saving money is also a big consideration.
     
    #11
    Frank Sanoica likes this.
  12. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    3,834
    Likes Received:
    3,426
    @Diane Lane It is a water bill only. We have no sewer (septic system) and trash pick-up is via a trash service, which provides a big plastic canister on wheels and empties it once weekly, $14 per month.

    Regarding solar energy: solar may be used to heat water, or generate electric power. The former is far easier to work with, since hot water may be easily stored for later use; electric power cannot be stored directly, unless it is "dumped" into batteries, which are expensive and wear out. Also adding to the imponderables associated with solar electric power, it is produced as a Direct Current, which is not compatible with one's existing household power, which is Alternating Current. Obviously, solar power seems a good bet in areas where abundant sunshine is available; where I grew up in the Chicago area, one could count the completely sunny days per year on two hands!

    Electric power is measured in Watts. There are many gigantic "power farms" already in operation, two being located between where we live and Las Vegas, in the desert. Below are the two viewed from the air. The smaller one on the right generates 64 million watts, and is known as "Nevada Solar One". The larger one is "Copper Mountain Solar Facility", rated to produce 458 million watts. Solar One covers 400 acres of land. The story is here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevada_Solar_One

    [​IMG]
    Photograph of Nevada Solar One, with the Las Vegas Valley beyond the mountains behind it. Plants of this design, which do not generate power directly from the sunlight via photo-voltaic cells, but rather concentrate the sun's rays using thousands of mirrors, heating a medium (oil), which in turn generates steam to turn standard generating turbines. Some are completely unsound environmentally because they kill many birds. "Ivanhoe" plant in California purportedly kills thousands annually. In my mind, the designers and builders of these types of plant certainly knew of this hazard in advance, caring far more for the financial rewards than the lives of birds. Frank
     
    #12
  13. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    Who uses the power stored in the power farms, Frank? Are they cooperatives, or corporate owned? I hear a lot about solar in other countries, and it seems many in parts of Alaska live totally off the grid. I do like the idea of having less reliance on city power, and a well would be nice, but of course each comes with some limitations. I wouldn't want to be totally cut off, but would more prefer to have a backup source, just in case the SHTF.
     
    #13
    Frank Sanoica likes this.
  14. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    3,834
    Likes Received:
    3,426
    @Diane Lane Sometimes I'm afraid the SHTF has already happened, and the long-term effects are being masked from view. Anyhow, to answer about the power farms: I like that term! One of the biggest obstacles to ease of use of electric power, is that there is no way it can be "stored" for future use. It can be converted into "storable energy" such as heat, but the power being generated by those huge areas of solar collectors is shipped away from the "farm" via high-voltage transmission lines, constantly, as it is being produced. The lines "dump" the power into the electric "grid", which interconnects virtually all of the continent.

    Conversion of electrical energy to another form of energy which is "storable" involves a lot of "losses", due to inefficiency. Further, it is not an easy task to convert stored heat, for example, back into electrical energy.

    Frank
     
    #14
  15. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    Thanks, Frank, I really don't know much at all about energy. If I had my druthers and some money to go with them, I'd have at least a generator here. It sounds as if solar and wind power are still in their infancies, and need to be studied and further developed, before we can rely on them, although it does seem some countries are heavily reliant on them already. I also think the S might have already HTF and the government and country are being propped up with funds we don't really have. It seems it will ultimately collapse like a house of cards.
     
    #15
    Frank Sanoica likes this.
  16. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2015
    Messages:
    2,906
    Likes Received:
    2,419
    When the rate of electricity goes up, when the cost of water rises up, the consumers are at the mercy of those companies. It's good that some media people are making their protest thru radio and newspaper columns. At least the utility companies are being extra careful because they sometimes end up the loser.

    There was this increased electric rates some 5 years ago that one radio commentator was protesting against. The commentator is an investigative journalist who did his homework to uncover that the electric company owes the consumer a rebate in billions of pesos. It is incredible but the electric company had to pay that rebate in installments. At least it's not a one way affair. With the water, the same radio commentator is investigating the water distributor's contract with the government why their income tax has to be paid by the consumers. It looks like there another rebate in the offing.
     
    #16
    Frank Sanoica likes this.
  17. Texas Beth

    Texas Beth Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Messages:
    568
    Likes Received:
    492
    I try to be very frugal with the electricity. However, it is harder to be a tightwad with water. I have a family of 2 and am paying almost half of what I pay in electricity costs. I don't even water my yard.
     
    #17
  18. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    15,004
    Likes Received:
    13,751
    My City of Fresno Bill includes sewer, water and garbage. It used to be a set fee but since the drought, water is metered. I live alone and usually am gone at least 10 days every month. Sometimes I don't even put any garbage cans out and it makes me angry that I pay the same for garbage and sewer as someone with 5 people in their house. It's the sprinkler system that hikes up my water and even with it being allowed only 2 days a week I see an increase in my water portion of the bill.

    I just paid my bill Saturday and it was $80.56 for a month. I should get a discount for not putting garbage out every time but that's not how it works. :(

    My gas and electric bill will be high next month since it's A/C time.
     
    #18

Share This Page